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Entire state of New York classified as ‘high risk’ for wildfires

  • / Updated:
  • Hayley Jones 

All of New York State is at high risk for fires.

Six fires are currently active across the state, most of which were started by unattended campfires, according to a statement from the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos urged campers to practice the utmost safety when building campfires, as well as to consider going without a campfire unless one is absolutely necessary.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

DEC says “hot and dry” conditions have worsened wildfire risk

The majority of those active fires are in the Hudson Valley. The state’s fire danger rating system recently upgraded the region to ‘very high’ risk for fires.

The rest of New York is classified as ‘high’ risk, meaning fires can spread quickly.

The DEC pointed to ‘hot and dry summer’ conditions as the cause of a statewide drought watch and high fire danger.

“If you’re enjoying the backcountry these last few weeks of summer, please think about whether you really need that campfire,” said Commissioner Seggos in a statement.

New York Fire Danger Map. Credit: NYS DEC

Related: DROUGHT UPDATE: How much rain is needed? Data shows many locations 3-7 inches behind on rainfall this summer

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

DEC says there are six active fires in New York burning about 47.1 acres of land.

The risk of a fire spreading quickly is higher if the wind picks up. The agency says a fire may become serious and difficult to control unless attacked while small.

“If you build a campfire, keep an eye on it to make sure the wind doesn’t spread it unexpectedly and when you’re finished, make sure the fire is completely out and cold to the touch,” said Seggos.

Campfires are among the top five causes of wildfires, as reported by state Forest Rangers.

Related: Winter 2022-23 forecast: Farmer’s Almanac releases their predictions

Tips for reducing risk of wildfires

The following information is recommendations provided by the DEC to reduce the risk of wildfires:

  1. Use existing campfire rings where possible;
  2. Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile extra wood away from the fire;
  3. Clear the area around the ring of leaves, twigs, and other flammable materials;
  4. Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could cause the fire to spread quickly.

For information on open burning and campfire safety in New York, go to DEC’s Open Burning in New York and Fire Safety When Camping webpages.

For further questions about wildfires, call 1-833-NYS-RANGERS and call 911 to report a wildfire.